News / USA

Witnesses Testify in Ghailani Terror Trial

Accused terrorist Ahmed Ghailani in court
Accused terrorist Ahmed Ghailani in court
Larry Freund

Several witnesses to the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, testified on Wednesday during the trial of one of the accused bombers, Ahmed Ghailani.  

U.S. prosecutors continued to lay the groundwork for the case against Ahmed Ghailani, in the first civilian trial of a terrorism suspect once held at the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  Ghailani is charged with conspiring in the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya.  The blasts killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

The latest testimony came from two Tanzanians employed as guards around the Dar es Salaam embassy by a private security company as well as from a Tanzanian woman who worked as a political assistant in the embassy and a U.S. Marine guard.

Valentine Matthew Katunda, one of the Tanzanian security guards, testified that on August 7, 1998, he was stationed in a guardhouse in front of the embassy, when he said he heard a loud rumbling, like lightning.  Speaking in Swahili through a translator, Katunda said he was thrown to the floor by the explosion and lost consciousness.  When he became aware of his surroundings, he said, he discovered himself covered with rubble.  He said he was trapped for more than four hours.

Justina Mdobilu, a Tanzanian lawyer who was working in the embassy as a political assistant and translator, told the jury that she was attending a meeting with the embassy's deputy chief of mission, when she saw a flash outside a window.  She said the window blew into the room and that she experienced what she called "the loudest noise I heard in my life, so painful it went through my chest and out the back."  Mdobilu, who was eight months pregnant at the time, said she was cut and bleeding, but that she was able to leave the embassy building.  Her unborn child was not hurt.

U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Brian Johnson, dressed in civilian clothes, testified that on the day of the explosion, he was stationed inside the Dar es Salaam embassy.  He said the blast knocked him to the ground.  He also said he helped rescue civilians from the embassy.

Ghailani, the accused terrorist, watched the testimony from the defense table, flanked by several of his attorneys.  During opening statements to the jury on Tuesday, he was described by one of his lawyers as an innocent dupe of the actual terrorists, and that he ran errands for the bombers without knowing their ultimate purpose.

Prosecutors argue that Ghailani was a vital member of the terrorist group and was committed to al-Qaida's goal of killing Americans.  The government says Ghailani bought the truck and gas tanks that were used in the Dar es Salaam bombing.

This first civilian trial of a terrorism suspect once held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center is being watched closely.  Presiding federal judge Lewis Kaplan already has ruled that under the U.S. Constitution, a key prosecution witness cannot testify in the trial because it would violate Ghailani's rights.  Ghailani was arrested in Pakistan in 2004 and was later moved to the Guantanamo Bay facility.   

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid